Bits & Bytes: Maggie Mailer’s ‘Revolutions’; Halloween at the Mason; Cash for Candy

New paintings by Maggie Mailer

Kent, Conn. — It is well worth a trip to see anything Maggie Mailer has made.

Now Mailer is unveiling new paintings for her solo show, Palace Revolutions, at the Ober Gallery in Kent, from November 1 through November 30. The opening reception is Saturday, November 1, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the gallery on 6 North Main St.

These paintings take the format of 19th century romantic landscape painting as a deceptively inviting context for exploring the uncontainable energies of revolt. Mailer created this body of work partly in response to regular headlines of political and climatic upheaval, as well as in response to her own history of painting habits.

Palace Revolutions, oil on canvas.
Palace Revolutions, oil on canvas.

The show’s title is playfully lifted from the Rolling Stones song “Street-Fighting Man,” and references coups d’états led by those already in positions of power. While many of Mailer’s paintings have a serene finished quality, the activity preceding the end result contains a wide range of emotional states. Mailer’s painting process involves a continual leveling and rebuilding of the paint surface, leaving raw traces of previous painting sessions that become formal elements in her compositions. The process acts as an analog to the energies of political upheaval, as various forces within the paintings vie for centrality, and competing subject matters and palettes colonize the surface of Mailer’s work.

Mailer is the daughter of author Norman Mailer and jazz singer Carol Stevens, and she is one of the region’s well-known contemporary artists. In 2002 Mailer founded the Storefront Artist Project in Pittsfield, a residence program that served to establish a transparent boundary between the artist at work and the public sphere. The project received national attention on both coasts, is credited with the revival of the city of Pittsfield, and has been used as a model for the regeneration of other cities across the country.

— H.B.

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Halloween Bash at Mason Library

Great Barrington — If you’ve ever wanted to try a Devil’s Q-Tip, you’ll soon have your chance.

The Trustees and Friends of the Great Barrington Libraries are throwing a Halloween party for the community the day after Halloween. The Mason Library Community Halloween Party takes place on Saturday, November 1, from 5 to 9 p.m. And it’s free.

“The first party was so much fun, the library wanted to have another,” said Library Trustee Chair Holly Hamer. Back in May, the library welcomed new Director Amanda DeGiorgis with a lively bash in a packed house.

At 5 p.m. there will be “spirited” storytelling by Tim Van Egmond, a folksinger and storyteller who performs throughout New England.

Devilish pizza and creepy cupcakes follow spooky stories from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Children of all ages are welcome.

At 6:30 p.m. the grown-up’s party begins with performances by Berkshire Sings and Berkshire Ukelele Band. The free party includes a buffet with fiery grilled quesadillas, the Devil’s Q-Tips, warm cider, beer and wine.

The Halloween party is the brainchild of Mason and Ramsdell librarian Lizzie Meier, who is a member of both musical groups and a firecracker on the ukelele. She also has a beautiful voice. Originating from Berkshire South and always welcoming of new members, twenty or more players will perform in each group.

And as you eat your Devil’s Q-Tips, the silent film “Nosferatu” —among other projections –will play against the library walls, while a dimly lit bat chandelier dangles overhead.

And what would a library be without free books? Scary. Poe tales, horror stories and bizarre tragedies will be available for the intrepid.

The library needs volunteers from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to help transform the place — to change light bulbs, spread cobwebs and cover everything in black plastic. And someone will have to “horrify the restrooms,” Hamer said. It would be even more fun if everyone wears costumes. Children with parents are welcome at the “grown-ups” party but there will be alcohol served from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Everything is free — donations for adult beverages are welcome.

— H.B.

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Cash for candy

Pittsfield — One area dentist is redefining the phrase, “put your money where your mouth is. This Halloween, Trick-or-Treaters can bring their excessive candy to 523 South St., to the office of Dr. Jon Gotterer on Saturday, November 1. Each child is eligible to receive $1 per pound up to a 5-pound maximum for all unopened, uneaten candy.

“Donate the candy and give our men and women in uniform overseas a taste of home,” Gotterer explained. Kids can have all the fun trick or treating, and also have their piggy banks benefit as well. The candy buyback program will help parents who want to limit the amount of damage that is done to their children’s teeth. We want to encourage and teach preventative care which includes decreasing sugar consumption.”

The candy that’s collected will be shipped to troops overseas via Operation Gratitude.

“We also send healthy snacks and toothbrushes,” Gotterer added.

To receive cash for candy, come to Gotterer’s South Street office between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on November 1. There will be goodies, prizes and toothbrushes for children, too.

— D.S.